Read Part 1
They stood in silence for some time. Strangers, meeting for the first time, introduced to each other under paranormal circumstances. After the initial run-in, they now felt awkward. They had no choice but to sort this out.
Deeksha had not informed her parents about the change in her schedule. The evening slot of seven to eight was hers, and she had asked Meera to fill in for her. Her mother would always listen in the first half hour of her segment – it was her way of knowing her daughter was well and at work. But not tonight.
Deeksha received the call promptly at 7.30.
“Haan, ma. No, I’m ok. Yeah..no, I have a headache. Uh huh, no. I’m fine, really. Amma, please. No, don’t send Pa. I’m fine. Giri will drop me. Yeah, ok. Bye”
Akash looked at her as she flipped the cell shut and turned to him. “Mothers.”
He smiled weakly and nodded.
Deeksha looked at the traffic below. “Ma is extra worried for me, after Akku.”
Akash nodded again.
“So, how did it happen?”
“Where? Here, in Bangalore?”
Deeksha shook her head. “Outskirts, they were on their way to Mysore. I wasn’t very comfortable she leaving in the evening. Late evening, that too.”
“We received the call around midnight though.”
Akash frowned. “They hadn’t reached yet? It’s not more than three hours…”
“I know, and I found it strange. The car collided with a truck coming out of one of the town roads, near Maddur. And that town’s just midway.”
“What did the cops learn, didn’t they investigate it further? How many of them were in the car…?”
“Hey, slow down, ok? I’m not an investigative journalist. It was bad enough we lost Akku, I didn’t have the energy to..”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to..I was just..you know, concerned about how it would’ve happened.”
Deeksha nodded. She understood. “Well, nobody knows what happened inside the car. Nobody survived. So the cops too had no way of knowing what happened. Moreover, in the crash, the car caught fire and all the bodies were burned beyond recognition. We identified Akku through a bracelet I’d presented to her.”
Akash didn’t want her to go through the pain.
“Deeksha, it’s ok. Leave it. I don’t think you should recount all that. What’s the point now?”
Deeksha grit her teeth and pursed her lips. He knew she would’ve broken down had he not stopped her.
But she continued.
“They were three of them aside from Akku. I knew one of them – Shashank.”
“Yeah. You know him?”
Akash shook his head. “No, but the name is familiar.”
“Anyway, what surprises me is you met her..I mean, her spirit, in some resort, where did you say it was?”
“Hmm. There. It’s strange. Why would her spirit..if at all it was, meet you there, of all the places?”
Akash sighed and shook his head. “I have absolutely no idea, Deeksha. It all feels like a dream, really. And I wonder why she hasn’t appeared again, in all these weeks.”
They were silent for a few seconds.
Deeksha suddenly turned to Akash. “Wait. What did you say was the resort’s name?”
“Umm..I don’t think I mentioned the name. But, it’s “Planter’s Haven”, or some such..I think it belonged to some big shot coffee-planter there.”
“Planter’s Haven. Shit…”, she said and flipped her cell again and called someone.
“Hello, Preetam? Hi, Deeksha. Heh, hi..hey, listen. You were talking about some resort in Sakleshpur a few months ago, right? Planter’s Haven? Uh huh..hmm? Yeah, yeah…oh..right. No..nothing, it came up in a conversation. Yeah. Thanks, dude. Bye.”
She looked at Akash.
"Planter's Haven belongs to Shashank's father."